International Night returns for first time since 2019

For the first time since 2019, International Night will return to the University of Detroit Mercy on Nov. 16, 2023, at the McNichols campus.

Through an immersive celebration of cultural diversity within a vibrant and engaging atmosphere, “International Night” inspires deeper understandings and appreciations for the dynamic collection of ethnicities and cultures at the University of Detroit Mercy (UDM). Event festivities include a feast of global culinary delights, captivating musical acts, cultural dances, as well as valuable insights from international student organizations and members of the community.

Director of the International Services Office at the McNichols Campus, Lily Swan, is co-organizer and master of ceremonies for International Night. Swan hopes that attendants of the event leave with a deeper understanding and enriched perspective on various cultural communities. 

“I want attendees to have a good time, while learning something new,” Swan said. “UDM is such a culturally diverse community, and we want to take the time to highlight and celebrate it.”

This enhanced understanding of one another helps cultivate better societies, and in turn, a more unified and improved world. “At the end of the day,” Swan emphasized. “We all strive to be respected, understood and to be loved, no matter our race,

ethnicity, religious affiliation, or sexuality.”

Alison Roberts, assistant director of the International Services Office, also helped plan International Night. She believes that the celebration of culture is vital for authentic expression. 

“It gives us a chance to learn about and understand others; to foster open-mindedness,” Roberts said. “It allows people to express themselves and be seen.”

Oriekarose Agholor, a junior in Robotics and Mechatronic Systems Engineering Honours, is the senator of International Students. She has assisted the International Services Office as the student coordinator for the event.

“Culture is a way of life,” Agholor affirmed. “It is an integral part of human identity and well-being. Culture does not only define a society and a people, but also individual persons. Our culture reflects on our individual beliefs, values, and behaviors, and tie us together.”

As an international student from Nigeria, Agholor cherishes International Night as a supportive space for individuals with diverse backgrounds.

“For those like me who are a long way from home, culture is what keeps going on and thriving in a different society and nation,” Agholor said. “It gives comfort and peace, and pushes us to uphold the highest tenets of our people and to attain and surpass the standards of our ancestors.”

Agholor is also president of the Music Club and president of the African and Carribean Student Organization. She is excited to sing her own Afrobeat songs during the event.

This year, International Night aligns with International Education Week, a time designated by the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of State, to exchange the benefits of international education worldwide.

International Night will emphasize global education by featuring testimonies of students who have studied abroad.

UDM’s Director of Language and Cultural Training and Study Abroad Information Coordinator, Lara Wasner, is eager to showcase the wonders of studying abroad at a dedicated table during the evening. She looks forward to “talking with international students about their experiences abroad, here on campus, and in the U.S.; learning about life in another country, what students like to do at home and while they are here, hearing their stories and reflecting on them.”

For Wasner, International Night provides a space for everyone to engage in vibrant conversations about their diverse communities and enrichening experiences. 

“Each culture is unique and important,” Wasner continued. “Coming together representing our dynamic communities and experiences presents opportunity for dialogue and listening…to appreciate one another, our differences and similarities – especially in each other’s presence – as this was sorely missed due to the pandemic.”

All students, staff, and faculty are invited to this evening of joy, delicious food, and community spirit. Guests are welcome